Who’s back for champion Spurs? Players wonder, too
Manu Ginobili had a simple message for his teammates during an emotional team meeting Tuesday.
Let’s do this again.
With six potential free agents headed by Tim Duncan, the message was made clear -the Spurs would like everyone back for a run at a sixth NBA championship.
”I’m pretty sure most of the team is going to come back,” Ginobili said.
San Antonio met as a group for the first time since beating Miami 104-87 on Sunday night to close out the NBA Finals in five games. Coach Gregg Popovich used the meeting to take one last playful dig at his players.
”He did show us a couple of clips that we sucked at (in Game 5),” guard Patty Mills said, laughing.
All the same, free agency that begins July 1 could alter close-knit roster.
”Manu spoke to us,” Spurs guard Danny Green said. ”He had some good things to say. We had a great season. He was really emotional, he’s proud of us. In a short amount of words, (he said) `Obviously I had fun, I don’t know if you guys did, but I had a good time. You guys want to do it again?’ Try to put a little bug in their ears. Hopefully they come back.”
Duncan has a player option, but his teammates expect him back and the 38-year-old forward did not give any indications otherwise throughout another resurgent season.
”It will come to an end, but I don’t think next year,” guard Tony Parker said of the team’s run under the Big Three. ”I think everybody’s going to come back.”
Parker has non-guaranteed contract, but San Antonio is highly unlikely to release its All-Star point guard.
The future for Mills, Boris Diaw, Matt Bonner and Aron Baynes is less certain. Mills, Diaw and Bonner are unrestricted free agents.
”I haven’t sat down with R.C. (Buford, Spurs general manager) and talked about what we want to do, but one would think it’s logical to not make major changes with the group,” Popovich said. ”Usually we don’t make major changes anyway, so, I wouldn’t anticipate any.”
The Spurs made minor changes following their previous title in 2007.
Those under contract include Ginobili, Green, Tiago Splitter, Marco Belinelli and finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who turns 23 on June 29.
Diaw and Mills both said they have not had a chance to think about the future other than eagerly awaiting their first victory parade, which takes place Wednesday night.
”I had a great time. It’s a great situation,” Diaw said.
Mills is expected to receive the most attention after going 5 for 8 on 3-pointers while scoring 17 points in 18 minutes Sunday. The 5-foot-11 guard also pestered Miami’s Dwyane Wade defensively, especially in the series-clinching victory.
Another pressing matter for the Spurs is whether to play for their respective national teams this summer. Mills and Baynes have committed to play for Australia, but Ginobili is still undecided about rejoining his Argentine teammates.
”It’s a little harder every year now to decide because a lot of things go on and family matters and physically, too, but I’ll try to make a decision by the end of the week,” Ginobili said.